Europe’s leading fruit and veg supplier Bonduelle harvests supply chain planning tools to pinpoint demand and cut waste across globe
Bonduelle, the number one supplier in Europe for canned vegetables and second largest for frozen veg, is close to completion of a supply chain transformation project that has helped the manufacturer reduce wastage and predict with pinpoint accuracy what’s most likely to sell in different parts of the world, following the implementation of demand forecasting software through FuturMaster.
The €3bn company counts a number of leading brands across Europe, North America and Asia, including Bonduelle, Cassegrain, Arctic Gardens and Ready Pac Foods. The manufacturer supplies around fifty vegetable varieties in over a hundred countries. It employs nearly fifteen thousand people and operates fifty-eight production sites in ten different countries, all strategically placed to make sure that freshness and proximity to key customers can be guaranteed. With over 130,000 hectares harvested throughout the world and over three thousand farmers, Bonduelle produces around a million tonnes of canned goods a year, 450,000 tonnes of frozen goods and 350,000 tonnes of fresh produce.
Following a series of acquisitions – including most recently the Del Monte processed fruit and vegetable business in North America – the business is increasingly having to cater to different tastes in different markets across the globe. For instance, Bonduelle is a market leader in Europe and popular for products including tinned peas, asparagus and bagged lettuce, while its Ready Pack Foods brand in the US is better known for ready-to-eat salad bowls.
In Europe alone, twenty-seven markets are served across five key regions and supplied by twelve factories and warehouses. Three-quarters of its food sales are through established retail channels, and around a fifth of sales come from the food service industry, such as restaurants. The majority of sales are from ambient products such as tinned fruit or vegetables supplied from a range of 5,900 products, compared to around a thousand frozen products. A significant proportion of its growing business is through private label production for supermarket’s own-brands (currently making up around half of annual sales). Bonduelle’s current (2017) operating income was reported as €108m.
“There are significant differences across local markets and different countries can have completely different delivery and logistics setups, not to mention different product requirements,” said Natalie Morandière, S&OP methods manager at Bonduelle Europe. “It can be difficult to manage food contracts in the food industry and we need to arm our sales teams with the best information possible.”
The company also recognised new challenges in the market and a gradual shift in consumer attitudes towards more locally produced products, as well as rising demand for more organic and higher protein ranges and a general need to adapt to smaller-scale farming for improved sustainability.
“We needed technology to help us look forward over a year in advance and anticipate what’s likely to sell so that we can plan how best to use our prized raw materials and reduce waste,” said Morandière.
She added that its previous, centralised approach of managing everything from head office was no longer ideal for a business now operating in so many different international markets:
“We needed to move away from an operations-focused supply chain to a more customer-focused approach, with more decentralised processes and local flexibility across different regions. Before, we were used to working in silos – by region, or department – and rarely together.”
Since deploying demand forecasting software through industry specialist FuturMaster, Bonduelle is now better armed at optimising its sales forecasts and can synchronise local demand across Europe. The company completed the rollout of the software across all regions in 2018 for its retail and food service businesses, with plans to focus next (in 2019) on how improved Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) can help further with its sustainability objectives.
“To be competitive, we really had to improve our supply chain strategies and adopt a common language and processes,” said Morandière. “We rely on shared systems and access to the same reliable data across our sales, marketing and supply chain departments in every region.”
Benefits of the ‘digital transformation of Bonduelle’s supply chain’ cited, include: a better understanding of consumer needs; a XX% reduction in obsolete (or slow-moving) stock; and more successful new products (or new packaging) being launched through improved monitoring of sales.
The FuturMaster software also helps with agricultural planning and is already achieving high benchmarks for the industry, said Morandière. Forecasting accuracy has improved over both the short and long term. Short term planning accuracy is on track to increase up to twenty percent and long term planning accuracy has remained stable and very high (approaching ninety percent), despite moving to a more decentralised approach. There still remain some challenges and variations across different regions, with smaller retailers that stock fewer brands sometimes being more difficult to predict and share data with. Private label also tends to require a more reactive approach, she added.
As the business continues to grow and expand internationally, improved information exchange and sharing reliable information is clearly helping Bonduelle to adopt the mantra:‘think global, act local.’